Intelligence Community Whistleblowers

Reality WinnerOn June 26th, National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Reality Winner pleaded guilty in federal court, agreeing to 63 months in prison in plea agreement for a single charge of espionage. Winner’s case has made national headlines throughout the past year after she was arrested in June 2017 for leaking NSA documents regarding a Russian hack in the 2016 election to a news outlet. Ms. Winner was arrested under the Espionage Act, a federal law that was created for spies, not whistleblowers.
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Daniel Ellsberg speaks on his experience blowing the whistle.

“What would you do if you were a young professional working at your dream job, and you discover that your employer was lying to the public, promoting a disastrous foreign war, and steadily expanding a weapons program that threatened to destroy human life on earth?”

Daniel Ellsberg faced this question himself multiple times in his life. He posed the same question to the audience during his April 10th talk at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and in his new book, The Doomsday Machine. Ellsberg continued that he believes there are currently thousands of government employees looking at the prospect of nuclear war, whether or not they recognized this sentence as applicable to them.


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Earlier this month Stephen M. Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, attended a roundtable discussion with the National Security Agency (NSA) Inspector General (IG) Robert Storch. The meeting served as an avenue for the IG to hear comments on the NSA’s whistleblower program.

In attendance was Andrew Snowdon, NSA whistleblower coordinator and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) counsel, as well as representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, Project on Government Oversight, and Government Accountability Project, among others.


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Earlier today, the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) joined a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the Supreme Court in support of FBI whistleblower John Parkinson’s petition for certiorari, seeking review of the Federal Circuit’s decision denying veterans’ preference-eligible FBI employees the right to raise whistleblowing as an affirmative defense in an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

The amicus brief, filed on behalf FBI whistleblowers Michael German, Robert Kobus, Jane Turner, and Frederic Whitehurst, as well as the NWC and the Project on Government Oversight, details why the Department of Justice’s procedures for FBI whistleblowers are not an adequate substitute for a veterans’ preference-eligible FBI employee raising a whistleblower claim in an MSPB case.


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Picture this: while at work you become aware of conduct that you believe is unethical, illegal, or qualifies as government waste, fraud, or abuse. You decide you want to blow the whistle. But before you act, be careful! Most corporate and government networks log traffic. Your work computer and phone are not private. When you use a company or department computer, assume everything you do is monitored. These computers are an easy way for your employer to determine you are the whistleblower.

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Dissenting judges decry “denial of due process” for FBI whistleblowers.

October 26, 2017. Washington, D.C.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, ruled against veterans who are employed at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and are fired for blowing the whistle. The case is known as Parkinson v. Department of Justice.  In a major setback for veterans and whistleblowers at the FBI, the majority opinion held that FBI employees like John Parkinson, who have rights to challenge a termination from the FBI before the Merit Systems Protection Board cannot raise whistleblowing as an affirmative defense before the MSPB as other employees are permitted to do.
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Public urged to Take Action!

The National Whistleblower Center issued the following action alert today which featured a 2016 speech by then FBI Director James Comey.  The full action alert is reprinted below:

In light of the news of former FBI Director James Comey’s dismissal, the NWC is calling for our government to reaffirm its commitment to protecting whistleblowers from retaliation.
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The White House announced today that President Obama commuted the prison sentence of whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Manning was convicted of stealing and disseminating government documents and videos to WikiLeaks.
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